Quantifying weathering rind formation rates using in situ measurements of U-series isotopes with laser ablation and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry
To quantify chemical weathering processes, it is essential to develop and utilize new geochemical tools that can provide information about chemical weathering in the field. U-series isotopes have emerged as a useful chronometer to directly constrain the rates and duration of chemical weathering. However, the conventional solution-based MC-ICPMS method involves a long and expensive sample processing procedure that restricts the numbers of measurements of samples by U-series analysis that can be completed. Here, we report in situ measurements of U-series disequilibria obtained with laser ablation (LA)-MC-ICPMS on weathering rinds collected from the tropical island of Basse-Terre in the archipelago of French Guadeloupe. We characterized two weathering rinds for U-series isotope compositions and elemental distributions with LA-MC-ICPMS and LA-Q-ICPMS. The in situ measurements of U-series disequilibria were consistent with the previous bulk measurements obtained by conventional solution MC-ICPMS despite the larger analytical uncertainties. The LA technique allowed a greater number of measurements that accelerated sample throughput and improved spatial resolution of measurement. The rind formation age, weathering rates, and U-series mobility parameters modeled in this study are comparable to the results from previous studies conducted on the same clasts, and also reveal new insights on rind formation such as the impact of micro-fractures on weathering history and U-series ratios. The improved spatial resolution available with LA Q-ICPMS helps distinguish between linear and power law rind thickness-age relationships that were unresolvable using conventional solution-based MC-ICPMS. In situ measurements with LA-Q-ICPMS in these weathering rinds also elucidates the sequences of mineral reactions during chemical weathering. The LA-Q-ICPMS maps of major and trace elements and elemental ratios reveal details about the rind formation processes at the weathering interfaces of clasts such as dissolution of primary phases, formation of new phases, development of porosity, and mobility behavior of U. This study demonstrates a new analytical method for determining weathering rates in rinds rapidly and accurately that can be used in a large number of rinds, providing key information at the clast scale.